From Elton L. Daniel's "The History of Iran," pp 263-267
Abbas Mirza (1789-1833). Crown prince under Fath-Ali Shah; responsible for conduct of two wars with Russia; sought to reform and modernize the Iranian military.
Shah Abbas the Great (r. 1587-1629). Safavid monarch when the empire was at its zenith; established contacts with European powers; embellished Isfahan as the capital.
Abou Moslem Khorasani (d. 755). Iranian client of the Abbasid family; organized revolt in eastern Iran that established the Abbasid caliphate; later murdered by the caliph Mansour; various rebels attempted to avenge his death; became a figure of legendary significance in Iranian popular literature.
Abu'l-Hasan Ali b. Bouyeh, Emad-al-Dowleh (r. 932-949). Founder of an important independent principality in western Iran during period of disintegration of abbasid caliphate.
Amir Kabir Mirza Taqi Khan (1807-1852). Most outstanding reformist minister in 19th century Iran; sought to improve or modernize the military, bureaucracy, economy, and educational system; overthrown and murdered as the result of political intrigues.
Ardashir Papakan (r. 224-240). Defeated Artabanus V, the last Parthian king; founder of Sasanian Empire.
Mohammad-Baqer Behbahani (d. 1792). Osuli Shi'ite religious scholar who decisively defeated the Akhbari sect and established the principle of the authority of the mojtaheds.
Cyrus the Great (600-530BC). Founder of the Persian (Achaemenid) Empire; regarded as one of the most illustrious rulers of antiquity for his extensive conquests and benevolent rule.
Darius the Great (r. 522-486BC). Third Achaemenid king; architect of the Achaemenid imperial system; sent the expedition to attack the Greeks at Marathon.
Shah Esmail (r. 1501-1524). Founder of the Safavid dynasty; head of the Safavid religious order and leader of the qizilbash forces; reunited Iran after the disintegration of the Turko-Mongol states; established Twelver Shi'ism as the official religion of the emprei.
Abu'l-Qasem Ferdowsi (920-1020). Author of the Shahnameh (Book of Kings), a great epic poem that preserved the legends and much of the history of pre-Islamic Iran and symbolized for many the Iranian national spirit.
Abou Hamed Mohammad Ghazzali (1058-1111). Distinguished Iranian religious scholar, famous for his critique of philosophy and his reconciliation of Sufism and Sunni orthodoxy.
Hafez (d. 1389). The supreme master of Persian lyric poetry (the ghazal), usually on mystical or Sufi themes; his collection of poems (Divan) is often consulted for guidance in the way of divination or fortune-telling.
Hulegu (r. 1256-1265). Mongol conqueror of Iran and founder of Ilkhanid dynasty; killed the Abbasid caliph and destroyed Ismaili fortresses in Iran.
Karim Khan Zand (r. 1750-1779). Tribal chief from southern Iran who ruled most of the country after the death of Nader Shah; renowned for his clemency and just rule.
Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini (1902-1989). Most important Shi'ite religious figure of the 20th century; relentless opponent of the Pahlavi government from 1963 onward; popularized the idea of rule by a supreme Shi'ite jurist; architect of the Islamic Revolution and the guiding personality of the Islamic Republic.
Khosrow I Anushirvan (r. ca. 528-579). Suppressed the Mazdakites; reformed administrative structure of the Sasanian Empire; fought a major war with Rome and extended Iranian influence throughout the region; legendary for his attention to justice and good government.
Mahmoud of Ghazna (r. 998-1030). Turkish sultan who broke with the Samanids and became governor of Khorasan; fought numerous campaigns in India, gaining fame as a destroyer of Hindu temples; lavishly patronized literature, art, and the sciences.
Mazdak (fl. 485-523). Radical religious reformer in late Sasanian Iran; advocated redistribution of wealth and holding women, children, and material goods as common property of the community.
Mithridates I (r. 161-138BC). Founder of the Parthian Empire; captured Seleucia (Ctesiphon).
Mohammad-Reza Shah Pahlavi (1919-1980). Second and last shah of the Pahlavi dynasty; restored to power after overthrow of Mosaddeq; launched ambitious social reforms in the "White Revolution" and led a drive for higher oil prices in a bid to make Iran a major power in the Middle East; forced out of the country during the Islamic Revolution.
Mirza Hosayn Khan Moshir-al-Dowleh (1828-1881). Qajar diplomat in Bombay, Tbilisi, and Istanbul; appointed prime minister in 1871 and was responsible for encouraging Naser-al-Din Shah to visit Europe and begin a new period of reform; dismissed after cancellation of Reuter Concession in 1873 but held various other posts down to the time of his death.
Mohammad Mosaddeq (1882-1967). Prime minister who led the movement for the nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1951; overthrown by an American- and British-backed coup in 1953; the greatest political hero of the liberal and secular nationalists in Iran.
Nader Shah Afshar (r. 1736-1747). General who took over the Safavid Empire and became the new shah; ambitious ruler who tried to unify the country, expand its borders, promote trade, and reconcile Shi'ism and Sunnism.
Nasr II b. Ahmad (r. 914-943). One of the greatest Samanid princes; assisted by the famous ministers Jayhani and Balami; reign marked by spread of Ismaili Shi'ism and revival of Persian literature.
Nezam-al-Molk (1018-1092). Most famous vizier during the Seljuk period; advisor to Alp Arslan and Malekshah; author of a classic Persian treatise on the art of government.
Reza Shah Pahlavi (1878-1944). Officer in the Cossack Brigade and leader of the 1921 coup that led to the overthrow of the Qajar monarchy; as shah, he promoted Iranian nationalism and numerous social and economic reforms; forced to abdicate by British and Soviet forces in 1941.
Jalal-al-Din Roumi (1207-1273). Persian poet who lived most of his life in Seljuk Anatolia; author of the Masnavi, perhaps the greatest of all Sufi poems; founder of the Mevlevi Sufi order.
Mosleh-al-Din Sadi (1193-1292). Popular Persian poet, author of the Boustan (garden) and Golestan (Flower Garden), which present in prose and verse short, simple, didactic stories on various moral and ethical topics.
Shapur I (r. 240-271). Enlarged Sasanian Empire; captured the Roman emperor Valerian.
Ali Shariati (1933-1977). Influential lecturer and writer who helped lay the foundations for the revival of militant Shi'ism in Iranian politics; especially popular with young people, students, and religious-oriented socialists.
Zoroaster (fl. ca. 1100BC?). Ancient Iranian prophet and religious reformer; introduced worship of Ahura Mazda.